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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

An Opportunity for Dems in the Hobby Lobby Ruling?

If anyone had remaining doubts about how meddlesome the phony ‘strict-constructionalists’ on the U.S. Supreme Court are willing to get, the Hobby Lobby ruling should set them straight. Here we have the highly-partisan Republican majority of the Supreme Court in solid agreement that your employer can cherry-pick and eliminate coverage for medical procedures you and your physician choose. Why? Because your employer’s religious beliefs trump yours even though it’s your body, silly.
Never mind the First Amendment bit about respecting no establishment of religion. Nor is it important that you’re paying for your preferred medical care out of your earnings and benefits. Your boss gets to veto your medical choices that you pay for with your money.
Don’t buy any of the crap about the narrowness or ‘nuances’ of the Hobby Lobby ruling. It established a precedent that begs to be broadened, and this is a High Court majority that is willing to go there. It’s only a matter of time.
No one should be shocked either, that the court’s right-wing (the term ‘conservative’ would be an insult to real conservative jurists in this context) majority is oblivious/hostile to worker rights. They have demonstrated that proclivity at every opportunity.
And it will likely get worse if Republicans win a senate majority in November. If they do, they will prevent vacancies on the court from being filled by any nominees who fit into the moderate-liberal spectrum.
In their Huffpollster post on “Reviewing the Polling on Hobby Lobby,” Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy write that “Results depend on how you ask.” They quote from Aaron Blake’s post at The Fix:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that “closely held” companies with religious owners cannot be required to provide their employees with birth control if they have religious objections to it. Do the American people agree? Well, no. And yes. Contraception is one of those issues on which you can get vastly different opinions from the American people just by asking the question in a slightly different way….It suggests that Americans’ opinions on the topic are quite malleable and — by extension — pretty soft. If Americans can offer such different responses based on just a few words being changed in the question, they probably don’t feel all that strongly about the issue or haven’t really paid attention. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who feel very strongly. It just means they they are probably in the minority.

Blumenthal and Edwards-Levy report that an early June Gallup Poll indicates that confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court is at an all-time low (30 percent). Naturally, the poll failed to make a significant distinction between the Republican majority, which calls the shots, and the appointees of Democratic presidents, which is kind of the larger point. But it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to infer that most of the discontent is about the decisions of the majority.
That raises the possibility that Democrats can get some benefit, however small, from reminding voters what is at stake regarding the Supreme Court if Republicans win the senate. It’s not likely that such a focus on the court will sway many voters — it never has. But, in a close election, maybe, just maybe it could help mobilize single women voters in particular, who have the most to lose from a High Court that encourages employers to meddle in their medical care even more.
The Supreme Court of the United States has been dominated by politicized hacks since Bush v. Gore, although too many Dems have trod gingerly around the strong language needed to make it a front and center issue. The Hobby Lobby decision sends a clear warning that those days should be over. And if we needed an additional reminder that employer-linked insurance is a booby-trapped mess, and we really need to push harder for a single-payer system, here it is.

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